Much to ponder as England defeat leaves WINDIES in danger of missing semis

Sun, Jun 16, '19


WI World Cup

Following their 8-wicket defeat to England on Friday, the West Indies will need to be near-perfect if they are to advance to the semi-finals of the 12th staging of the Cricket World Cup. The Caribbean side now sits 6th on the points table; only having picked up a solitary point following their opening-day win over Pakistan. The West Indies have now lost to Australia and England, while sharing a point with South Africa in their abandoned match at the Rose Bowl last Monday.

Holder and his team continue to sweat over Andre Russell’s knee issues. The 31-year-old limped off the field in the match against England, this was after missing the West Indies’ clash versus South Africa four days prior as a result of the injury to his knee. The question has been raised as to whether the West Indies should opt for replacing the Jamaican or not, this seems unlikely as Holder has stated that Russell is worth the risk. This is a risk which the West Indies acknowledged when Russell was selected for the tournament, having stated that he was being included primarily as a batting all-rounder.  Yet the West Indies insists on not just asking Russell to bowl, but even using him as first change bowler.

There were, however, positives from the game against England; Nicholas Pooran and his partnership with Shimron Hetmyer. The 89-run partnership came off 99 balls; the duo took WINDIES from 55 for 3 to 144, before a frustrated Hetmyer fell to Joe Root. The pair did all the hard work, but Hetmyer’s inability to cope with the slower bowlers got the better of him. Pooran, on the other hand,  went on to get his maiden ODI half-century, but the wickets kept tumbling around the Trinidadian and when play broke for an injury to the England captain, so did the left-hander’s concentration and with him went WINDIES’ hope of posting a challenging total.

There may not be a cause for panic, but the look of Shai Hope is indeed a need for concern. During the first game against Pakistan, Hope looked rather uncomfortable. Which could have been contributed to nerves associated with a first World Cup appearance, batting with Chris Gayle as well as being shuffled up the order, once again. However, since then, Hope has gone on to play a tentative half-century against Australia; an innings in which he took his time to get going. Against England; we saw Hope back in his all too familiar shell. The wicket-keeper batsman looked like a pre-CPL18 Shai Hope—a slow starter, shaky and stuttering in the 20s and 30s, unable to put away the bad deliveries—finding the fielders—unable to rotate strike, a resident of the back foot and fearful of faster bowlers.

The last thing this struggling West Indies team needs to be doing is chopping and changing. But, the exclusion of an out of form Darren Bravo as early as game 2 in the tournament meant that any further changes to the batting line-up would be bringing him back in (as he is the lone specialist batsman available from the bench). Therefore, the other cause for concern being Evin Lewis could signal the West Indies going into this must-win phase of the tournament with Darren Bravo at number 3. While dropping Lewis will disturb an already uncomfortable looking Shai Hope as the Bajan will be asked to move up the order.

There is a chance though that Hope at the top of the order may be beneficial for both the right-hander and his team. If Bangladesh opens the bowling with Mehidy Hasan as they usually do, instead of Hope facing seam from both ends at the start of his innings, the mix might just buy him the time he needs to settle himself and get his confidence back. Another possible pro to Shai Hope opening would be that he would be involved in setting the pace of the innings, as opposed to coming in and playing catch-up, putting pressure on his partner and himself.

WINDIES bowlers have been getting a lot of stick following their unsuccessful short-ball ploy against England and deservedly so. While there is nothing wrong with the ploy itself, the West Indies must remember that: short deliveries should be a surprise and our bowlers sell themselves short by just ‘banging it in’–they are so much more than that.

Therefore, if the short stuff is not yielding results, the team should return to their lines and lengths.

The West Indies will take on Bangladesh at the Cooper Associates County Ground, in Taunton at 5:30 AM ECT/ 4:30 AM Jamaica time.